I always feel guilty about the fact that I first heard Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” in a car commercial; there’s something about Drake in general, and “Pink Moon” in particular that that feels like heresy, as if just by that process of discovery, I’ve somehow cheapened the music and Drake’s tortured experience in life. This is what’ll happen to future mes, when Elliott Smith is used to advertise sneakers and they hear “Needle In The Hay” for the first time. There’s a lot to connect Drake and Smith, even beyond the tortured artist stereotype; a sensitivity and serenity to their music, a preference for hushed vocals and finger-picked acoustic guitars… Smith is, in many ways, the more openly self-loathing descendant of Drake’s, but there’s a warmth to Drake that Smith sometimes misses.
(A lot of that warmth, I think, comes from Drake’s voice, which is weirdly charming in its breathiness here, and the almost comforting nature of the song, which is simple and open and has the type of chord structure that makes it feel more relaxing than others, for some reason.)
Having said all of that, my favorite version of “Pink Moon” isn’t the original; it’s Beck’s cover from a few years back, which adds a melancholy – again, I’m tempted to say that’s a vocal thing as well – to the original, a sadness and resignation that gives the entire song a strangely more affecting mood.
Clearly, I just like the sad songs.